There is just something about doom metal that gets me. It gets so many things right, it pulls me in and keeps me wanting more and more. The first half of 2019 saw a relative dearth of great doom metal, and I kept waiting for my fix.
When I think of excellent doom metal, I am looking for heavy, heavy riffs, that still remain delightfully melodic. Vocals that are soaring, emotive, and powerful are a key. I want memorable choruses that you want to sing along with. And, of course, under it all should be a palpable melancholy, a sense of loss, sadness, of even despair. Come on, it’s called doom metal for a reason. This isn’t happy music.
The catharsis in a solid doom song is a wonderful thing. It can be incredibly therapeutic, and I find it even soothing at times.
Enter Isole, with their latest album Dystopia. I wasn’t familiar with the band prior to this August release. But Dystopia immediately made me a fan. I found everything I was hoping for.
The riffs are massive. They are powerful. They are heavy. Yet they still sing to you. They tell a story. They aren’t heavy just to be heavy. They propel the music and the emotion directly into that instinctive lizard brain. The guitars emote in a mournfully beautiful manner. Take personal favorite “You Went Away”. It starts with an ominous church bell and a grinding, low, brutal riff. Layered on top of this, though, is a mournful clean mini-solo. Nary a word has been sung, but this combination has already set up an epic feeling tale of sadness and loss.
Let’s not forget the vocals. Throughout the album, they shine through the music. Acting both as a focus of light, and an additional source of sadness and loss, they sweep along with the music, bringing the listener with. Scaling back at times, growing, and exploding at others, they provide the dynamics necessary to sweep the listener along in the flow of the music. There are even sparse and tasteful death growls. These are all the more effective due to their restraint. They masterfully convey darker emotions at just the right time.
Dystopia is a tight seven songs. Not a moment feels wasted or superfluous. This further enhances the impact of each and every song. I find myself coming back again and again.
What I love the most about music is it’s ability to be appreciate for a plethora of reasons. Some music I love because of the technical ability required to produce it. Other, because of its ability to excite and motivate me. The music I love the most is that which makes me feel.
Dystopia makes me feel. It communicates so many emotions and does so with so much skill and power. The music is as emotional as the vocals. The lyrics bring you along as well. This is doom at its finest, and exemplifies why doom is one of my very favorites.